Eating Sourdough Bread Has An Unexpected Effect On Your Heart

You remember COVID, right? It seems like more than a decade ago when people were locked down in their homes and finding ways to occupy their time. Some people took up knitting, and others assembled puzzles. Rather than head to the grocery store for food, people also scoured their cupboards to experiment with different recipes. One of the baking trends was sourdough bread.

Unlike other breads, sourdough bread doesn't need store-bought yeast. That's because you're creating your own microbiotic environment using water and flour. It takes several days for this sourdough starter (which is why it was so popular during COVID), but your home-grown microorganisms have many health benefits. According to a 2021 article in Microorganisms, sourdough bread is healthier than you think with its vitamins and minerals that regulate metabolism and boost your energy. Sourdough can also keep tabs on your blood sugar, and the natural prebiotics are good for your gut health. The antioxidants and other nutrients found in sourdough bread can also protect your heart from disease.

The sourdough process improves its heart health benefits

The fermentation process used to make sourdough bread not only makes it more digestible than other breads, but also improves its antioxidant, antihypertensive, and anti-inflammatory properties, according to a 2023 article in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences. For example, sourdough bread made from fermented spelt has more phenols and flavonoids compared to non-fermented spelt. These phenols and flavonoids are antioxidants that combat oxidative stress that's often linked to heart disease and cancer. Beta-glucans in sourdough bind with cholesterol so it doesn't get absorbed in your bloodstream.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) is responsible for regulating your blood pressure, but too much of this enzyme can lead to high blood pressure. Bioactive peptides that can inhibit ACE activity are boosted as a result of the fermentation process. Sourdough bread from spelt flour can also better protect your cells from inflammation.

Other health benefits of sourdough

Perhaps the most-noted benefits of eating more sourdough bread are its effects on your gut health. Although you'll find plenty of the lactobacilli bacteria in a sourdough starter, most of these good bacteria die when you bake the bread, according to a 2023 article in Fermentation. That doesn't mean your gut won't benefit from eating sourdough bread, however. Some of the healthy biomolecules can remain depending on how long the bread is baked and at what temperature. Fibers such as beta-glucan and resistant starch feed the bacteria in your gut and ease constipation. Sourdough bread doesn't need preservatives, emulsifiers, and other food additives that often contribute to gastrointestinal issues. The fermentation process breaks down the wheat gluten, so sourdough is relatively low in gluten compared to other breads. Also, regardless of the flour used in making your sourdough starter, the fermentation process reduces the phytates, tannins, and polyols that worsen irritable bowel syndrome (per International Journal of Molecular Sciences).

Sourdough bread might also be a good choice for controlling your blood sugar and making you feel full. A 2017 article in Food Research International studied the effect of three types of sourdough bread and a brand of commercial wheat bread on blood sugar, insulin, ghrelin (your hunger hormone), and satiety. All three sourdough breads caused lower levels of insulin and blood glucose compared to wheat bread. Sourdough bread made from einkorn flour caused lower levels of ghrelin while creating more satiety.